Every time University of Miami senior Hannah Weese crosses the newly built pedestrian bridge over UM’s Lake Osceola, she will honor the memory and legacy of her grandfather. The bridge will be christened the Fate Bridge in honor of her late grandfather Alexander Grass, who used to carry a copy of the poem ‘Invictus’ by William Ernest Henley in his briefcase. He lived his life by its two final sentences: “I am the master of my fate, I am the captain of my soul.”
The Weese family hopes that these lines, which will be inscribed on the bridge, will serve as inspiration to all UM students. Weese and her family, through the Grass Family Foundation, donated $1 million toward the building of the bridge which will promote greater mobility in the Coral Gables campus.
“My grandfather was a man who was driven and he knew what he wanted and went after it,” said Hannah. “In our family, we have taken the quote from Invictus as our motto.”
A self-made businessman who founded the Rite Aid Corporation, Grass believed in giving back to the community. Elizabeth Grass Weese, Hannah’s mother, has made it a point to instill that value into her six children and thus was thrilled when her daughter asked her to consider funding the project. The 210-foot bridge will span the stretch from the Eaton residential lot to the Donna E. Shalala Student Center, which has become the hub of campus life.
"My father had an incredible life," said Liz Weese. "One full of choices and decisions. He followed his gut and stood by those decisions. Funding a bridge that will be well traveled by students in a place where choices abound seems very profound to me. I think he would be proud."
“The generosity and vision of the Weese family will live forever in this beautiful, inspirational bridge,” said Sergio Gonzalez, senior vice president for University Advancement and External Affairs. “The Fate Bridge not only fits in perfectly with the University’s master plan, but it is also an excellent addition that will further promote, facilitate, and enhance mobility and access around campus for our students and community."
A special ceremony to dedicate the structure and open it to foot traffic will be held at 11:15 a.m. Wednesday, October 28 on the Eaton Residential Lot. Hannah and her mother will be present at the event. UM President Julio Frenk will also be present, along with other University leadership.
Construction of the pathway was led by Moss Construction Management and UM students from the College of Engineering (CoE), under the direction of Professor Antonio Nanni. They assisted in the erection of the bridge by installing glass fiber reinforced polymer rebars (GFRP) and sensors. The bars will help with future corrosion problems and the sensors will detect how the bridge will hold up through the passage of time.
The construction of the bridge served as a “living laboratory” for graduate and undergraduate students from the CoE who saw the opportunity of using their skills and know-how as a way to prepare for their professional lives.